Okay, people, it’s go time. The horns have started, the old former presidents are tottering in, and as many people are on the mall as are going to fit. So it’s time for us to begin our Inauguration live-blog. Please, chime in with your feelings, thoughts, and ideas in the comments. And if we cry, just know that it’s not partisan emotion — Intel’s Jessica just admitted this morning that she cried during Benjamin Button, and Chris will have you know that he once sobbed through the entire final ten minutes of The Color Purple starring Fantasia Barrino. It’s the moment, people. It’s the joy.
11:21 a.m.: Okay, things we have noticed so far about the older presidents: George H.W. Bush is looking really old and wobbly, Bubba is finally losing his hair, and Jimmy Carter’s face has turned to stone. The Bush twins look lovely, and the trumpet music that the Clintons were greeted with sounded significantly more like a royal fanfare than anyone else’s. Seriously, it’s like a Renaissance Fair. Princess Chelsea in 2016!
11:24 a.m.: The iPod speakers in our apartment just inexplicably turned on and started blaring “Crush” by David Archuleta when the Obama girls came on camera. We always knew we had a ghost in this place, but we didn’t realize it was so liberal. (Or pervy!)
11:28 a.m.: When Laura Bush came out, instead of demurely smiling, she was the only person to holler, “Hey everybody!!” She’s fun.
11:29 a.m.: Craig Robinson is wearing Princeton colors. He looks appropriately smug about it.
11:29 a.m.: We get that people want to look nice, but those people look freezing. Put on some hats! Couldn’t they have held this thing inside?
11:30 a.m. Malia is wearing a purple/blue wool coat with a ribbon belt, and Sasha is wearing a similar pink one. Malia is taking pictures, and Brian Williams observes, “She’ll have some better-than-average angles.” Yes. She also has a better-than-average blowout for a 10-year-old.
11:33 a.m.: What’s with the cheap folding chairs for the First Families? They couldn’t get something a little more warming for the kids?
11:35 a.m.: Cheney in his wheelchair looks EXACTLY like Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life! Attention whore.
11:36 a.m.: Bush and Cheney arrive to applause. Really, we swear we heard it.
11:36 a.m.: Wait, Michelle just stands in the crowd? We love how they miked the entrance so you can hear everyone’s banal, paralyzingly awkward pleasantries.
11:37 a.m.: No one seems aware of it. Now would be a really good time for Biden to say something off-color.
11:39 a.m.: The crowd goes nuts for Biden as he enters. Behind him in the hall, Obama looks a little too aware that he is History on Legs.
11:40 a.m. Seriously, Obama looks way too self-satisfied. Like a priest getting communion. That is a bad expression. He should have practiced in the mirror. Nancy Pelosi, of course, is unable to make any sort of expression.
11:42 a.m.: Even though Tom Brokaw is babbling about sharecroppers and the “aspirations in the barrios,” we are getting goose bumps.
11:43 a.m. Yeah, Pelosi definitely had pre-inaug Botox.
11:43 a.m.: The president-elect is announced as “Barack H. Obama.” There must be over a million small flags being waved in that crowd. But “H”? Was that a cop-out?
11:43 a.m. Aw, he hugged Jesse Jackson Jr.! Uncaptured by the mike was the part where he said, “I forgive your father for saying he wanted to cut my nuts out.”
11:45 a.m.: Hey Dianne Feinstein! We just saw you in Milk!
11:45 a.m. Starting to feel the big-dealness! It’s so exciting! And a little Cold War communist pomp! All that drapery.
11:46 a.m.: George Bush looks like he might be tearing up during Feinstein’s speech. She’s not even really deriding him. She cites MLK and the racial breakthrough of the day, and then gets off the stage quickly.
11:48 a.m.: Rick Warren, oh boy. People in the crowd actually appear to be praying. Really hard. We wonder if this many people in fur and flannel have ever prayed together before.
11:49 a.m. Oh, the cameras found some NPR liberals in the audience looking skeptical, checking watches.
11:50 a.m. Even CNN’s camera is shivering.
11:51 a.m.: Does Rick Warren have dyed highlights?
11:52 a.m.: Rick Warren pronounced “Malia and Sasha” the way that local newscasters pronounce the word “Nicaragua.”
11:53 a.m. Sometimes we mistake the growth on Obama’s nose for a single tear. It makes him look even more noble.
11:54 a.m.: This also may be the first time that the Lord’s Prayer has gotten such big applause.
11:55 a.m.: Oh, Aretha. What are you wearing on your head? Is that a Liberty Bow? And is this the lounge remix of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee?” CNN even had to identify the song on their ticker in case people didn’t recognize it.
11:57 a.m. Why is that Bible so massive? Is it a large-print edition for blind people?
11:58 a.m. Noted: Biden is a father who kisses on the mouth.
11:58 a.m.: Yay! Joe Biden said “Robinette.” There’s hope for Hussein yet.
11:59 a.m.: There are only 60 seconds left of the last eight years of our lives, people.
Noon: It wasn’t noted, but during the playing of Anthony McGill, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Gabriela Montero, according to the Constitution, Barack Obama quietly became the 44th President of the United States.
12:04 p.m.: Okay, that was stunning. And we cried.
12:05 p.m. We were having an emotional moment, and then CNN panned to a guy chomping on a PowerBar. America.
12:05 p.m.: Hussein, he said it! Ooh, Obama stumbled on the oath. He’s nervous! We didn’t think it was possible. Justice Roberts seemed delighted to be the first to call him president.
12:06 p.m.: Sasha wastes no time in reminding us who wears the adorable pants in that family. Meanwhile, the crowd is going bananas.
12:07 p.m. Love that the CNN cameras are picking up some chatter of the people in the audience, and they’re saying things like “Change is here.” It makes it much less antiseptic and formal.
12:08 p.m.: He started his speech by thanking Bush. Polite, and now that’s over with.
12:10 p.m.: Wow, look how brightly his flag pin is shining. This is symbolic of something. What, we don’t know.
12:11 p.m.: “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many,” Obama says. “But now hear this, America, they will be met.” Is there going to be a historic line? How are we going to know when it comes?
12:15 p.m.: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America!” Dude, we just started fifteen minutes ago; let us shower first.
12:16 p.m. Malia is videotaping her dad with her digital camera. So cute. Did she get that for Christmas?
12:17 p.m. P.S. Kid, if it doesn’t work out, we’re pretty sure someone else got a good shot.
12:18 p.m.: “Know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” That got big applause. We didn’t see what Bush was doing at the moment.
12:20 p.m.: Obama has a message to terrorists: “We say to you, know that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken, you cannot outlast us and we will defeat you!” Ooh!
12:22 p.m.: He appealed to the Muslim world to move forward with him based on “mutual interest and mutual respect.” To tyrants and despots, he says “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
12:25 p.m.: “Because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger, and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass, that the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller our common humanity shall reveal itself, and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”
12:27 p.m.: On public service, Obama says: “This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
12:28 p.m.: It’s over. Wow. Only eighteen minutes.
12:29 p.m.: Now Elizabeth Alexander, the poet, is reading her work. This is somehow more moving than Aretha singing. People are staying to listen.
12:35 p.m.: Joseph Lowery’s benediction carries far more gravitas than Rick Warren’s invocation. Ooh, and he makes a point of talking about “inclusion, not exclusion” and “tolerance, not intolerance.” We’ll take that as a nod to the LGBT crowd.
12:38 a.m.: He even got the crowd chanting “Amen!” That was fun.
12:40 p.m.: Wow, “sea chanters.” We didn’t know there was such a thing.
12:43 p.m. Biden maybe doesn’t know the words to the anthem. That’s cool. We don’t either.
12:57 p.m. Bill Bennett called it “a muscular speech.”